mick mercer -
CHRISTINE PLAYS VIOLA
This has been warming the cockles of my crotchety old heart for a few weeks, rumbling cheekily in the background as I finished my book, and it’s a curious beast, part hard-wired gargoyle, part poisonous fluffy toy.
‘Albatross’ can explain why before it segues seamlessly into ‘Swallowed Cold Insanity’, the itchy nature of its greyness illuminated by simple icy notes which could be a synth but just easily come from a xylophone. As the song then swoops and sweeps away with Massimo Ciampani’s grumpily agile vocals, Desio Presutti’s bass warms it delightfully, the rhythm kept sweetly flowing by Daniele Palombizio’s deft drumming, and throughout it all Fabrizio Giampietro has his guitar and synth shaping and colouring the cavities like a dappled diamond, glinting beautifully, atmospheric but also upfront and twisting sensuously.
‘Witch Of Silence’ plods brilliantly, the steady drums, the artful bass, grimly incisive guitar and sumptuous synth as pretty as anything on early Danse Society records, which is the key to this, they’re one of those bands where everyone is impressive in their own right, and the balance is perfect. The vocals are gloomy yet spirited, not downcast, and as it seeps proudly along it brings into play space and individual emphasis, with bass nodules protruding, or guitar scuttling, and as the keys pick their way through the fallen wreckage you end on a delicate high.
‘Four Steps In Your Hole’ is looser with imploring vocals, a touch of sonar icicles, willowy insidious guitar and an aching pop sensitivity. ‘Innocent Awareness’ then takes that strength and inveigles its way into your suspicious mind by pouring like a technocat on a spying mission, with a flurry of superbly prickly guitar, pushing along behind eager drum wheels as the vocals get all profound in their isolation. (“These clouds can be my pillow, veil of gloom, These words can feed sorrow, in your pale womb.”) The rhythm is choppy, the upper vocal surface gaseous, and that guitar billows thrilling murk.
‘Regressive Self Abnegation’ bumbles like am ambient slice into ‘Admire A New Demise’ which goes for a more opulent post-punk feel, the shadows falling away to reveal something sunnier, relaxed and friction-free, rolling casually with burnished bass and lightly peeled synth. ‘Permutations’ is friskier with more pop sweetness fading in, ‘The Parchment Sand’ is positively wistful, keys to the fore, bass loping with purpose, guitar discreetly flatulent, the vocals cheery for all the lyrical doubts and sagging emotions. ‘Failed To Connect To Heart (Endline)’ then floods with heat and subtle anger, so imagine a grieving, bitter Comsat Angels. ‘I Was Wrong’ finishes on a comparatively sedate note but resiliently beautiful, moody and mesmerising.
An album of gradual changes then, and all of them wonderful.